An innocent at large in the land of milk and honey

August 23, 2014

Tony and Sean Izatt and I arrived at Sharon’s farm in Yarrow in the middle of the night. We devoted the morning and early afternoon to settling in, shopping for lunch materials for the upcoming four days of guided fishing on the Fraser River, and an unsuccessful search on the black market for an early-season sockeye.

By afternoon when members of the group dropped off for naps, I found a flat pan and wandered across the road to the neighbour’s to inquire about the “Organic Blueberries – You pick” sign on the driveway of a trim mixed-farming operation on 10 acres. From the looks of things they raise a few cattle, sheep, grapes, blueberries, and a principal crop of squab, my hostess told me. Honest, there’s a ready market for large quantities of baby pigeons, year-round.

The owner Jacob directed me to a corner of a 2 1/4-acre field of blueberries and set me to work, muttering that he didn’t think I would pick many.

This was my first encounter with a domesticated blueberry bush, though as a little kid I had earned my first cash by selling wild blueberries to passing cottagers.

The berries hung in plump bunches on the shrubs and I dug in with a will. Catching the clumps of berries proved trickier than I expected. First of all, two hands would be much better than one. The flat pan soon found itself nestled in the grass below the bush, and I gently dropped berries into it. Many were overripe and squished when I touched them. These, of course, were eaten. What could I do? Delicious flavour. Oh yeah, the dish. Seems it was easier to squish them and then eat them by the handful than bend to drop them into the pan below.

I blamed my bifocals and considered removing them, but the berries were actually accumulating quite well in the pan by the third bush and I had well exceeded what I could eat over the next week. Besides, I only had four dollars in my pocket and the stated price for pick-your-own was $1 per pound.

But then our hostess Sharon Izatt showed up to add $2. to the kitty and even pick a few berries. Before long a cat came along to supervise and Sharon was lost in that wordless communication that some people have with felines. Damned thing was trying to roll in my berry dish, but Sharon was in heaven.

At length my human supervisor called a halt to the harvest and we walked up to the owner’s deck to pay. Mrs. Jake looked at the pan, smiled, and said “$2.00.”

Sharon whispered, “$4.00.”

I handed over four loonies and grinned at Jake. He quipped: “From the looks of his face and tongue, he’s eaten about a pound, so they’re not far off.” I gaped. He continued: “How you tell that blueberries are really organic is that they turn your tongue and teeth blue. If your tongue doesn’t turn blue when you eat blueberries, they’ve been sprayed. They’re not organic.”

Then I wandered off into a conversation with Jake’s guest from Illinois about bass fishing in BC until Sharon had finished her neighbourly chat. Away we went with our haul of fruit for a picnic up in the Fraser River Canyon tomorrow.

After supper I tried to catch the sunset and discovered Rider, Sharon’s rough collie, is as skilled a photo-bomber as I have met.

Rider inspects the day's crop of blueberries.

Rider inspects the day’s crop of blueberries.

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